Let’s get together for good

A few years ago, I was part of the anti-merger brigade. But times have changed, haven’t they? Having played for several Jewish clubs, including my current one, London Maccabi Vale, I feel suitably qualified to comment.

I joined the Jewish cricket fold in the early noughties, when the Maccabi Sunday League was thriving.

My innings started at Edgware Wanderers, later to merge with Belmont, with a successful spell at Casual Nomads in between. Offers from Southgate Synagogue and MAL have also been on the table.

The demise of the league, a few years ago, resulted in a very worrying picture. Nomads fell by the wayside, leaving only a handful of clubs – playing a variety of standards. And when the Stuart Neils National Cup stopped, the future looked even bleaker.

Vale have been top of the tree for the large part, with Belmont, MAL and Nomads enjoying years of great success too. But clearly, playing the best quality competitive cricket clearly isn’t the be all and end all for the masses today.

There was a time when, myself included, it was great being a big fish in a small pond. Having completed a 20-year stint on the non-Jewish circuit at Hampstead CC and Middlesex Colts, I wanted a new challenge. At the time, Vale wasn’t for me, but now it’s the only viable option.

Vale and Belmont have discussed a possible merger more than once and more recently, we’ve seen informal discussions between MAL and Belmont, who are celebrating their 40th anniversary. Rivalry used to be fierce and healthy, but, sadly, it’s no longer there.

We’re not dealing with the same kind of numbers as we still have in Jewish football in London and I believe it’s time for some people and clubs to start looking at the bigger picture, forward, not back, and not worry so much about names.

The old guard at Vale have been given a new lease of life by Maccabiah stars of today and tomorrow – namely Joseph Greenwall Cohen, Benjamin Lederman, Andrew Greenwall Cohen, Jonathan Gould, Adam Spooner, plus fleeting appearances from Grant Reingold.

Given that Sunday cricket has become a struggle for many clubs around the country, a one-club ethic would be a win-win, especially for the youngsters. It would make sense to house everyone under the same umbrella, with Rowley Lane the obvious venue.

Discussions have stalled for now, but once we can put egos and bravado to one side, I really hope the ball starts rolling again sometime soon. They may not happen today or tomorrow, but somewhere down the line they have to or the inevitable will happen.

Last updated: 11:52pm, August 4 2014